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English Literary History


English Literary History

1. Beowulf is regarded as the national epic of the Anglo-Saxons.

2. Romance is a popular literary form in the medieval period.

3. Geoffrey Chaucer has been called the father of English poetry. His masterpiece is The Canterbury Tales.

4. Humanism is the essence of the Renaissance.

5. Edmund Spenser is known as “the poets’ poet”. Masterpiece the Faerie Queene is a great poem of its age.

6. Christopher Marlowe is the most gifted of the “University Wits”. His masterpieces are Tamburlaine, Dr. Faustus, the Jew of Malta and Edward II. Marlowe’s greatest achievement lies in that he perfected the blank verse and made it the principal medium of English drama and the creation of the Renaissance hero for English drama.

7. William Shakespeare is one of the most remarkable playwrights and poets. His greatest tragedies are Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, and Macbeth. The Merchant of Venice is the most important play among the comedies.

8. Francis Bacon is a well-known Renaissance philosopher, scientist and essayist.

9. John Donne is the leading figure of the “Metaphysical school.”

10. The neoclassical period, that is the eighteenth-century England is also known as the Age of enlightenment or the Age of Reason. Enlightenment Movement brought about in reviving the interest in old classical works is known as neoclassicism.

11. The mid-century was predominated by a newly rising literary form – the modern English novel.

12. John Bunyan was a devout Christian, and a firm non-conformist of the Anglican Church. His masterpiece is the Pilgrim’s Progress. (最成功的宗教寓言诗)

13. Alexander Pope’s best satiric work is The Dunciad (愚人志).

14. Daniel Defoe’s works are the first literary writings devoted to the study of problems of the lower-class people.

15. Jonathan Swift was a master satirist. His “A Modest Proposal” is generally taken as a perfect model.

16. Henry Fielding is regarded as “father of the English Novel”. He was the first to set out, both in theory and practice, to write specifically a “comic epic in prose”, the first to give the modern novel its structure and style.

17. Samuel Johnson, as a lexicographer, distinguished himself as the author of the first English dictionary by an Englishman – A Dictionary of the English Language.

18. Richard Brinsley Sheridan is the only important English dramatist of the eighteenth century. His plays, especially the Rivals and the School for Scandal, are generally regarded as important links between the masterpieces of Shakespeare and those of Bernard Shaw, and as the true classics in English comedy.

19. Thomas Gray’s masterpiece, “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard,” establishes his fame as the leader of the sentimental poetry of the day, especially “the Graveyard School.”

20. English Romanticism is generally said to have begun in 1798 with publication of Wordsworth and Coleridge’s Lyrical Ballads and to have ended in 1832 with Sir Walter Scott’s death and the passage of the first Reform Bill in the Parliament.

21. William Blake was literarily the first important English Romantic poet. Symbolism in wide range is also a distinctive feature of his poetry. His major works are Songs of Innocence, Songs of experience and Marriage of heaven and Hell.

22. William Wordsworth, together with Robert Southey and Coleridge, became known as the “Lake Poets.” He published Lyrical Ballads in collaboration with Coleridge. The preface to this collection of poems is considered as declarations of romanticism.

23. Samual Taylor Coleridge and The Rime of the ancient mariner

24. George Gordon Byron’s masterpiece is Don Juan, which was called comic epic and mock epic.

25. Percy Bysshe Shelley’s greatest achievement is Prometheus Unbound. His most well-known lyric isOde to the West Wind.”

26. John Keats is known for his many great odes.

27. Jane Austen’s first novel is Sense and Sensibility. Her masterpieces are Pride and Prejudice, and Emma.

28. Novel became the most widely read and the most vital and challenging expression of progressive thought.

29. Realism emphasizes objectivity, straightforward and matter-of-fact, and adopts a critical tone.

30. Charles Dickens is one of the greatest critical realist writers of the Victorian Age. Dickens is a master of story-telling, and Character-portrayal is the most distinguishing feature of his works.

31. Bronte Sisters: Charlotte Bronte, Emily Bronte and Anne Bronte. Emily is chiefly famous for her only novel, Wuthering Heights.

32. Alfred Tennyson’s masterpiece is In Memoriam.

33. George Eliot, as a pioneer to the modern psychoanalytical novel, was the first novelist that “started putting all the actions inside.”

34. Thomas Hardy’s works, known as “novels of character and environment,” are most representative of him as both a naturalistic and a critical writer. Influenced by nature and environment.

35. Modernism takes the irrational philosophy and the theory of psychoanalysis as its theoretical base. The major themes of the modernist literature are the distorted, alienated and ill relationship between man and nature, man and society, man and man, and man and himself.

36. Bernard Shaw is a brilliant dramatist. Most of his plays are concerned with political, economic, moral, or religious problems, so his plays can be termed as problem plays. His plays have one passion only, that is, indignation.

37. John Galsworthy is a modern novelist. His first trilogy is Forsyte Saga: The man of property, in chancery and to Let.

38. William Butler Yeats was awarded Noble Prize for literature in 1923. His well-known poem is “sailing to Byzantium.”

39. T. S. Eliot was originally a very famous American poet, verse dramatist and prose writer. His major poems are “the love song of J. Alfred Prufrock”, and “the waste land.”

40. D. H. Lawrence is one of the greatest English novelist of the 20th century and also the greatest from a working-class family. The Rainbow and Women in Love are regarded as his masterpieces.

41. James Joyce is the most prominent stream-of-consciousness novelist. His masterpiece is Ulysses.

42. Washington Irving was one of the first American writers to earn an international reputation. His The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent contains the first modern American short stories and the first great American juvenile literature: Rip Van winkle and “the Legend of Sleepy Hollow”.

43. Ralph Waldo Emerson the American towering figure of his era, was responsible for bringing Transcendentalism to New England. His Essays includes his best writings such as The American Scholar, Self-reliance, The Over-soul.

44. Nathaniel Hawthorne is one of the most interesting, yet most ambivalent writers in the American literary history. His masterpieces include The Scarlet Letter.

45. Walt Whitman is a national figure in American literary history. His Leaves of Grass has always been considered a monumental work, containing “song of myself.”

46. Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick is one of the world’s greatest masterpieces.

47. Edgar Alan Poe is a famous fictional writer, short story writer.

48. James Fenimore Cooper’s lasting fame rests on his frontier stories, including The Deerslayer, The Last of the Mohicans, the pathfinder, The Pioneers, and the Prairie.

49. Mark Twain, pen name of Samuel Langhorne Clements, is a great literary giant of America and is considered the true father of American literature. He is known as a local colorist. Major works are Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and the Adventures of Tom Sawyer.

50. Henry James is the first American writer to conceive his career in international terms and the founder of steam-of-consciousness. Best works are the Ambassadors, and The Golden Bowl.

51. Emily Dickinson is the only woman in this period.

52. Theodore Dreiser is generally acknowledged as one of the greatest America’s literary naturalists. Sister Carrie is his best-known novel and An American Tragedy is his greatest work.

53. Stephan Crane is a pioneer writing in naturalistic tradition. He is mainly famous for The Red Badge of Courage.

54. Ezra Pound, a leading spokesman of the “Imagist Movement,” was one of the most influential American poets of the 20th century.

55. Robert Frost is a four-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize.

56. Eugene O’Neill is America’s greatest playwright. He was the only dramatist ever to win a Nobel Prize. He is widely acclaimed “founder of the American drama.” Masterpiece is Long Days Journey Into Night.

57. Francis Scott Fitzgerald was a most representative figure of the 1920s. His work, Tales of the Jazz Age, made the 20s called Jazz era.

58. Ernest Hemingway is one of the most popular American novelists of 20th century and a spokesman of the “Lost Generation.” Novels include A Farewell to Arms, the Old Man and the Sea.



1. The Victorian period has been generally regarded as one of the most glorious in the English history.

2. The worsening living and working conditions, the mass unemployment and the new Poor Law of 1834 with its workhouse system finally gave rise to the Chartist Movement.

3. The Bronte sisters refers to Charlotte Bronte, Emily Bronte and Anne Bronte.

4. Robert Browning is noteworthy for his mastery of the dramatic monologue form.

5. Faulkner’s novel the sound and the fury describes the decay and downfall of an old southern aristocratic family, symbolizing the old social order.

6. The poem The Red Wheelbarrow written by William Carlos Williams exemplifies the Imagist-influenced Philosophy of “no ideas but in things.”

7. E. E. Cummings is the most interesting experimentalists in modern American poetry.




1.The Tide Rises, The Tide Falls Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

        Footprints in “The Tide Rises, The Tide Falls”: The transient nature of human achievement

2. “She Dwelt Among the Untrodden Ways” by William Wordsworth

Last stanza creates a kind of perfect pathos

   The last line creates a perfect pathos. It shows that Lucy‘s death, though, is unnoticed by others and made no difference to the world, it has made all the difference to her lover, who loves and values her so deeply and feels a great pain and deep grief over her death.

   Now Lucy is in the grave and her lover is still living lonely on the earth,  there will be no chance for him to communicate with her and to feel her beauty, so Lucy’s death is a great loss to him. In this way, the last line arouses our deep sympathy both for the girl and her lover.

3. “Wuthering Heights” by Emily Brontë

God1 Would you like to live with your soul in the grave?

Your soul---Catherine

I love my murderer---but yours!

My murderer--- Catherine

Yours--- Catherine’s husband: Edgar   Catherine’s brother: Hindley

4. A Clean, Well-Lighted Place

What does the word “insomnia” imply? Ernest Hemingway A Clean, Well-Lighted Place

insomnia”, a physical disease or mental problem, may be a spiritual wound caused by despair, anxiety, alienation and nihilism.

In the course of exploring the deeper meaning of life, Hemingway brings the human neurotic nature into readers’ attention. The hereditary nature of neurosis of Hemingway’s heroes contributes proof to the conviction of naturalists that man is generally a threatened species.

It implies that the older waiter unconsciously does not want to confront the chaotic world and shuts him away from reality by sleeping during daytime, or indulging in reverie.


第三部分 阅读理解

      1. “Sonnet 18” by William Shakespeare

Shăll I| cǒmpáre| thĕe tó| ă súm|mĕr’s dáy?

Thǒu árt| mǒre lóve|ly ánd| mǒre tém|pĕráte.

Róugh wínds| dó sháke| thĕ dár|lǐng búds| ǒf Máy,

And súm|mĕr’s léase| hăth áll| tǒo shórt| ă dáte.

Sǒmetímes| tǒo hót| thĕ éye| ǒf héav|ĕn shínes,

And óf|ten ís| his góld| cǒmpléx|ǐon dímm’d;

And éve|ry fair| frǒm fáir| sǒmetíme| dĕclínes,

By chánce,| ǒr ná|tŭre’s cháng|ǐng cóurse,| ŭntrímm’d;

Bŭt thy| ĕtér|nál súm|mĕr sháll| nǒt fáde,

Nǒr lóse| pǒssés|sǐon óf| thát fáir| thǒu ów’st;

Nǒr sháll| Dĕath brág| thǒu wán|d’rĕst ín| hǐs sháde,

Whĕn ín| ĕtér|nál línes| tǒ tíme| thǒu grów’st;

Sǒ lóng| ás mén| cán bréathe,| ǒr éyes| cán sée,

Sǒ lóng| lǐves thís,| ánd thís| gǐves lífe| tǒ thée.


What is the rhyme and meter of the poem?

Meter: iambic pentameter

The rhyme scheme:  ABAB CDCD EFEF GG.


What does the poem reveal?

In the poem, the poet shows his profound meditation on the destructive power of time and the eternal beauty brought forth by poetry to the one he loves and then expounds that all nice and beautiful things in the world will disappear, but the beauty in poetry can last forever. Thus the poem reveals Shakespeare’s faith in the permanence of poetry, the lasting power of human art and the creative power of human beings.


      What is the effectiveness of the use of stream of consciousness technique in the story Eveline

      “Meeting at Night” “Parting at Morning”

Theme: Love is absorbing and desirable and makes lovers intent, eager and energetic to meet each other.

Love is not the lasting place and a man need to face the actual daily life of worries and hard work.

Between romance and reality there is a vast expanse.

      “The Glass Mountain” By Donald Barthelme

What modernist devices are used in the story?

   Repetition; (2) Catalogues ; (3) Collage; (4) Parody; (5) Displacement; (6) Subversion;

 (7) Juxtaposition


      What is the difference between realism and modernism?

Realism emphasizes objectivity, straightforward and matter-of-fact, and adopts a critical tone. Modernism takes the irrational philosophy and the theory of psychoanalysis as its theoretical base. The major themes of the modernist literature are the distorted, alienated and ill relationship between man and nature, man and society, man and man, and man and himself.



1.为什么Robert Frost的诗歌被认为是欺骗性的简单?

Robert Frost’s poetry is considered to be deceptively simple, because of the plain language and the common materials. As in this poem, the language is simple, clear and colloquial, and the materials depicted in the poem are everyday incidents, common situations and rural imagery. All these contribute to easy understanding of the poem. But those plain language and common materials are condensed with meaning and wider significance, and contain great lyrical beauty and potent symbolism. Frost implied philosophy of human life in the lines, such as how to deal with choice in our life. Thus there is profound philosophy under the plain lines, which make it simple at the surface. So his poetry is considered to be deceptively simple.


2. Give a comparison between Mrs. Mallard and Mrs. Sommers from feminist perspective by talking about their family background, troubles, awakening, desire for freedom, pursuit for the self, tragic end and etc.


Although both are questing for self and fulfillment of desire, there are many differences between Mrs. Mallard and Mrs. Sommers.

The first difference lies in their family backgrounds. Mrs. Mallard has a relatively good family background. She doesn’t have to care for material, and she belongs to the middle class or above. To the contrary, Mrs. Sommers’ live is hard and poor and she has to make the most of every penny. She has to care for the bread for the children. Before her marriage, her life seems to be better.

Next difference is the troubles they faced. Mrs. Mallard’s pursuit of self and freedom is bound by her husband, or rather, by confinement of social norm. But Mrs. Sommers faces the conflict of her responsibility to her children as opposed to her own fulfillment.

Their first awakenings are also different. Mrs. Mallard first has a sensuous awakening to the sounds, scents, color that fills the air, such as “the sparrows’ twittering”, “the delicious breath of rain” and beautiful color in the sky. But Mrs. Sommers firstly awakens to the soothing sense when she touches the stocks.

The pursuits of freedom are different. Mrs. Mallard’s idea of freedom is that a person has the right to decide what to think and what to do. She pursues self-assertion. But Mrs. Sommers is pursuing the freedom of self-fulfillment.

The last difference is that their tragic ends are different. Mrs. Mallard dies at last, while Mrs. Sommers has to go back the life as before. All these demonstrate that there lies self-oblivion or self-destruction if only the individual changes and not the world.


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